The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Will Craven, 415.407.3426,
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan in Canada: 780.697.3730

Full-Page USA Today Advertisement Warns Obama about Canada's Controversial Tar Sands Oil

First Nations Communities Raise Red Flag about Elevated Cancer Rates


group ForestEthics, the Mikisew Cree and the Athabasca Chipewyan First
Nations indigenous communities have placed a full-page advertisement in
USA Today highlighting the environmental damage wrought by oil from Canada's Tar Sands. [SEE ATTACHMENT]

The advertisement comes two days before President Obama's first official trip abroad,
where he is widely expected to discuss climate and energy issues with
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Government of Canada, whose
flawed climate policy has been designed to allow Tar Sands expansion,
has proposed a joint US-Canada climate pact to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions, but is likely to seek special treatment for Canada's
fastest-growing source of emissions: the Tar Sands.

"As if conventional oil doesn't cause enough problems around the world,
the Tar Sands are a Frankenstein of local and global environmental
hazards," said Todd Paglia, executive director of ForestEthics. "They have no part to play in the plan for a clean energy future."

In December 2008, Paglia published a vivid photo diary of his trip to the Tar Sands in the online environmental magazine Grist.

Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan made the following statement with regards to the Tar Sands developments:

"Both the federal and provincial
governments have failed our aboriginal community for the sake of money,
for the sake of corporate interests, and for the sake of increasing
energy exports to the United States. We are seeing disheartening
toxicity levels in our animal life and have now received confirmation
of unacceptable cancer rates to people in our community. As a people
who have been here for thousands of years, we are sad that no one will
listen and that government sits back and issues denials and publicity
campaigns without substance"

Facts about Canada's Tar Sands:
* Local communities downstream of the Tar Sands are experiencing rare forms of cancer;
* The production of Tar Sands oil generates three times the greenhouse gas emissions per barrel than conventional oil;
* Toxic ponds--so big they can be seen from space--are bleeding dangerous chemicals into the water;
* President Obama has pledged to spend $15 billion per year to
catalyze investment in new jobs in the clean energy sector. The Tar
Sands undercut these investments;
* the Canadian province of Alberta is spending $25 million to
convince Americans that the Tar Sands are a solution to our energy

Tar Sands oil is excessively dirty and toxic because it is not produced
in the manner of conventional oil. Instead, the oil is squeezed out of
the sandy dirt that lies below forested land, requiring vast amounts of
fresh water and energy. If the development of the Tar Sands continues
as planned, the scar on the earth could measure the size of Florida.

ForestEthics is urging Canada and the United States to act quickly to
invest in a clean energy economy. While this transition is occurring,
the Government of Canada needs to clean up the Tar Sands and ensure
that Aboriginal rights are upheld.

Last week, ForestEthics placed cheeky 'Personal' Ads in newspapers across North America addressed to President Obama, requesting his leadership on climate issues, and a policy position reflecting skepticism of the Tar Sands.

Founded in 2000, ForestEthics is a nonprofit environmental organization with staff in Canada, the United States and Chile. Our mission is to protect Endangered Forests and wild places, wildlife, and human wellbeing--one of our focus areas is climate change, which compromises all of our efforts if left unchecked. We catalyze environmental leadership among industry, governments and communities by running hard-hitting and highly effective campaigns that leverage public dialogue and pressure to achieve our goals.